A PLANNING authority is considering whether a former bus station looking for a new home could be kept on its current site.

The South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) has committed to working with landowners, council and the owner of Lewes bus station to find the best location.

The authority also pledged to work with Lewes District Council to assess the impact on air quality if the bus station is moved from its current site in Eastgate Street.

At a meeting last week, councillors met with the Generator Group, which owns the bus station site, SDNPA, East Sussex County Council, bus companies and community groups to discuss the future of the bus station.

Council Transport Committee chairwoman councillor Imogen Makepeace said the “absolute necessity” to retain a bus station close to the centre of Lewes was made clear to SDNPA and the Generator Group at the meeting.

According to Cllr Wendy Maples, council officers said that continuing bus operations would be “an immense challenge” if the bus station is closed, and made it clear they think the cost and responsibility of providing a new facility rests with the developer.

"And SDNPA confirmed that the Local Plan condition that the bus station site can only be developed if it is replaced by an 'operationally satisfactory and accessible site' is an absolutely key consideration for any planning application on the site,” she said.

The council, SDNPA, Lewes District Council and landowners agreed to work with Generator Group on a fully-integrated transport strategy for Lewes and to see if there are better sites for a bus station in the town.

Cllr Adrian Ross added: "Generator Group say that retaining the bus station on the site would not be financially viable.

“But they only purchased the site in April and were well aware of the planning condition. So, if the development is not viable, it would only be because they paid too much for the site."

“Following the meeting, we expect Generator Group to withdraw their notice to prevent continued use of the bus station, and to work with all of the other parties to determine the best location for a bus station in Lewes."

The site has not been used as a bus station since Southdown Motor Services/Stagecoach sold it in 2006.

Tim Slaney, SDNPA director of planning, concluded the meeting by agreeing to consider further whether the bus station can be retained on the existing site, to assess air-quality impacts with Lewes District Council and to work with the council, Generator Group and landowners to identify the best location for the bus station.

Concerned residents are asked to write to SDNPA planners, quoting reference SDNP/21/03284/PRE and copying local councillors.